Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day.....Have you Leapt yet?? Seriously.. Have you?

I know this helped lift the spirit of atleast one person today, :) , so this is for any of you today who might be loaded down with troubles of your own...

Keep in mind that today, it’s Leap Day. It’s one whole, extra day, in the span of our lives, one more gift of a day, to do with as we please. We can spend that whole, extra sunrise and sunset, fretting, torn in anxiety…..or we can fill it with God, giving him Thanks for 1 More Day. He wouldn’t want us to have the gift of an extra day if He knew it meant we’d be underneath the troubles and worries or worldly burdens. It’s a gift for us to enjoy, to drink in deeply. Praise God?

Friends, don’t let anyone make this day anything less than beautiful.

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
(Php 4:6-8)

Summing all that up in the words of my little girl, here's the bottom line,

"Don't be scared. Jesus is with you."

They say anything can happen on a leap day. So, we thought, corny family picture....leaping? why not?! My kids will probably never let me get away with this again, might as well shoot it up while we can :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Taige & Teigen

Well folks, Taige is shooting up like some kind of Spring flower, and Teigen will be walking, scratch that, strutting before we blink. So Amanda and Ryan thought it would be best to get these little stinkers in for pictures. There just wasn't time to wait for baby number 3, on schedule to be ushered into the family later this summer, so we'll be re-shooting out at a park near you in the coming months.

Amanda and I have been friends for awhile now. I hired her to replace me back in the Wells Fargo days, and I've said it before that she was ready to take my job by Day #2. I think by the time I left the company everyone (including my boss) was wondering not just who I was, but what it was exactly that I did ;)
This girl is smart as a whip. I've tried to get her to come and work for me for years, but I think there's just not enough incentive. Lifetime pictures just doesn't pay the bills I guess....sigh. Can't say I didn't try.
Since the corporate days I've had the good fortune to witness her growing family in pictures, from their engagements, all the way until now, and it's certainly been a pleasure.
Ryan, well I still don't know everything there is to know about Ryan, he's such the shy and quiet type. (yeah right). I do know one new thing, and it's that he's a runner, and he can run alot faster than me. He went buzzing by the studio at break-neck speed last year and left me spinning. :) Seriously though, every time I see Ryan with the kids, he's smiling, he's comfortable, and they are holding onto their daddy. That's the mark of a good dad.
I'm looking forwarding to getting everyone outdoors at the park so the kids can just tear it up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What Does a Peanut Look Like If You Let it Grow?

(Abigail, before she was born)

South Dakota is an interesting place to live. Our state is made up of a people who have the fortitude to stomach the hard issues. How many American legislatures have historically tackled the issue of humanity, supporting an unpopular, yet rising tide of undeniable truth, to champion the rights of the innocent. I’m speaking of the inalienable rights of any man to be free, the roots of which gave us as a country an end to slavery and a beginning to the rights of the woman, then the minority, and now today, the child.

We must rise above the calculated slogans of smear campaign tactics that have muddied the water and even the truth, so that we can stand as we were meant to, united. The men, women and children of this state can still see clearly enough to debate what is truly the single most defining question in America today:

Should Our Country Protect the Life of the Innocent?

Regardless of your belief, do you agree that this question holds a truth, South Dakota?
1. Today, we have the right to terminate pregnancy, ending the life of a baby. South Dakota is trying to form a law that will begin to protect that child.
2. We know that the child is alive. There is a heartbeat. To end the pregnancy, the mother must abort that life.
3. We know that the child is of all things, innocent. Regardless of circumstance or the mother’s political persuasion, regardless of whether we want to debate when his or her life began, this child, in the mother’s womb…could anyone be more innocent or more deserving of the rights and freedoms of which Americans have so courageously fought to pass down?

Ask instead:
Will You Help Protect the Life of the Innocent?

Click Here to find out what you can do to stand up.

What does a peanut look like if you let it grow...
See for yourself. Here's my Peanut:
(Abigail today)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Blessings Jar

I keep telling myself that I need to be posting more 'client-related' stories, but then I always have "just this one more"...

Our family keeps a blessings jar, which is basically just a mason jar with the lid punched out, sitting on the kitchen table. As the year rolls by, we write down any blessings or praises on sticky notes and drop them in. Now and then, as the seasons slip through our fingers and holidays tick along, that colorful little jar catches my eye, and watching it slowly fill is a beautiful reminder of just how present Christ really is in our lives.

It's easy to forget the blessings, and those amazing moments that we are stumped by Grace. But then, on nights like tonight, we take that jar down and unscrew the lid, and one by one, the memories pour out. If you've never done this, I encourage your family to begin the tradition today. I promise, the reality of the love of Jesus is unavoidably undeniable.

Of all of them last year, my personal favorite is this one, from April 25th, 2007. It's a simple little scribble that reads "Dad is coming to Lifelight!"

Some of you might not pick up on the significance of that little blessing, but read this post and you'll understand the depth of what this means to me.

My dad did come to Lifelight, and ended up giving his life back to Christ. The phone calls that he and I have had since then, even the email correspondence, have been nothing short of a miracle. Our relationship is very simply, restored. It used to be we'd talk about the basics. How the car is running, the weather, the kids.... Now, we have conversations filled with love and encouragement for one another. That little note, scribbled on April 25th, was just a quick thanks from me to God from a guy who had no idea just how big God's plan really was. A guy that had no way of knowing that five months later, that blessing would transform into an event that would change my life, and my dad's, forever.

Tonight my cup is full, to the brim. And I know exactly where the credit is due.

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, to know that this love surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Eph. 3:17-19

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Here's just a few shots from our first triplet shoot. We've had oodles of twins come through our doors, but three is just a bit more rare I think. :)
Mom and dad are staying very busy keeping up with the new addition(s) to the family, and big brother is making room in his heart for everyone. He was giving out kisses left and right during the session.
Between the accidents (my fault, I pushed it too long on the naked-baby shots) and the spit-ups, with grandmas and everyone giving 110% I think we came out with a few keepers ;)
What do you think, mom and dad?

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Since January, 2007, my family has:

*moved out of our home, naively thinking it would sell in 1 week.
*moved in with my in-laws for turned into 3 months.
*moved back into our home for 4 months.
*fixed up our home for 4 months.
*sold our home after 9 months.
*had endless meetings with bankers and officials about building onto our studio throughout the year (city codes, banking regulations.)
*let one employee go and hired another.
*subsequently got buried in work for 3 months.
*got the approval to build on.
*moved in with in-laws again for what turned into another 3 months while we got the project under way.
*built our new home and had the inspections signed off.
*moved into our new home in 1 day, spent New-Years Eve, at the stroke of midnight, dancing with my wife to Amazing Grace, courtesy of Life 96.5.
*And finally, spent this January, one year later, settling in, buttoning down for winter.

We've been tossing and bouncing around much like the butter that we churned in the last blog. I think there were days that it really did feel like we were getting poured through the strainer. Ask Kari, I'm sure she can rattle off a few...'momentous' occasions in the Elliott family.
As far as normal, whatever the interpretation of that may be, we're still trying to get a good bead on what that feels like, or what normal even means. Strangely, life today feels right-side-up in a very upside-down world, but I guess it all depends on your point of view, right?

The blogging began to slow to a gradual halt last fall, as there just weren't any more back-burners left to put things on, mostly because there just wasn't any burn left.
Sometimes, in big seasons of change we just need to step back and take it in, right?
It's been a sigh, a deep breath of fresh air, long awaited.

Well, here's a snapshot, with no big, deep meaning. My boy was dead set on him and I getting a shot of the dog and cat together, and when I saw this picture I got a good laugh. Thought some of you might like a light-hearted, good laugh too. Click the image to see a larger preview. The words are just what crossed my mind when I saw the image.... just for fun.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Stirring Up Some Strife

This week, out of the blue, my boy set his alarm and actually got himself up to go with me to my men's bible study.
I didn't ask questions, I was just happy to have him along for the pre-dawn drive into town.
We've been in Proverbs for a quite awhile, and of all the times to come along, he picked just about the hardest chapter in the whole book. He was confused, right along side the 3 grown men sitting next to him whose sum total of wisdom is a hundred years.
So we just picked a favorite verse, and it came out to be Proverbs 30:33.

"For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife."

We got to talking about it on the way home, churned milk, bloody noses, strife. Why did the writer compare strife to making, of all things, butter??

So I got to can we make this idea a reality. Two choices. Twist his nose until it bleeds...probably not the best way to learn ;).... or, make some butter.

We made butter.

Pour some heavy cream into a jar half way, a little sea-salt, screw the lid on tight, then get those kids dancing and shaking, taking turns for about 30 minutes.
In the beginning, they are arguing for who gets to shake it first, who can shake it the longest, who has become an expert on the method of 'butter-making' (as jars go flying through the air). In these shots below they are actually shaking and writhing, vigorously flailing the jars all around. I had to crank up the shutter on the camera just to catch a 'still' shot of The Butter Makers...

15 minutes in, faces are flush, arms are numb, breathing is has morphed into, ick, work!
Suddenly the idea of stirring up anger begins to sink in, and you can see little minds turning on the lightbulbs to the understanding of what causes strife and fights, through the shaking and churning, the constant state of unrest. It's a labor, a work, hard work...certainly not a peaceful motive.
You can see the cream as it gets heavier, thicker. Then you see it transform, the actual physical change as solid separates from liquid. Pouring off the buttermilk was even fun. Letting the extra residue just strain away, the stuff we just don't need to keep, and holding onto the richness of what was there all along. The stuff that matters...

It was a great lesson, and with the fruits of their labor, there was butter! The kids got to spread to their heart's content onto crackers, going on and on about how this was some of the best butter they've ever had...I mean, cmon!
We MADE this. WE did this! We OWN it. :)

All of this wisdom, this understanding, from 1 verse!
1 verse in over 31,000.
All filled with the same rich, creamy goodness, just for us...
that's a pretty awesome book He made for us, a pretty loving thing He did, a pretty cool gift to own. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All About Love

We just got finished with Kristi & Gabe's wedding a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to post a few shots for the two of them here. They should be back from their Honeymoon by now I'm thinking, and besides, of all the days, Valentine's fits perfect.

We've worked with several sibling weddings lately, where we spend the day shooting with a bride and groom, a year or two slips by, and then we get a call from the brother or sister in the family to ask if we could reserve their wedding date as well. It's a very affirming and humbling experience when we get that call, because 90% of what we do is word-of-mouth. We were there for Kristi's sister Kerri on a much, much colder February day in 2006.

In fact, Kerri's wedding was one of the first 'official' dates to hit the family radar between Kristi and Gabe.

My wife always says that a wedding is the witness of a new family being born, and we see exactly what that means when we get to see how lives have changed. We love drifting through the receptions, capturing the new babies that have come into the world. (Hint, Kerri.... Hint, Hint)

We had a beautiful wintry day to work with, and though the chill took everyones breath away, Gabe kept Kristi warm and snug in his arms.
Thank you to all the stunning young ladies who braved the snow in their high heels, and thank you, Kristi's Dad, for caring so much that it brought you to your knees as you brushed away the snow and dried your daughter's feet. That was a precious and authentic testament to a father's love in my eyes, one that Kristi will never forget.

Kristi and Gabe have a respect for one another that bubbled to the surface in special ways throughout the day. From the way he wiped her tears when they met to the way she snuggled into his tuxedo in the cold. They couldn't stand to be apart, and even though the wedding day was zooming by in a blur around them, there were moments in the lens that we witnessed the two of them, lost in a world all their own.

By the end of the night, after the speeches and dancing, I don't think anyone could walk away from the evening without a thorough understanding that life truly is all about love.